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Friday, May 8, 1998 Published at 14:54 GMT 15:54 UK



UK

New grave honours Churchill
image: [ Sir Winston Churchill's tomb has been replaced after visitors eroded the graveyard. ]
Sir Winston Churchill's tomb has been replaced after visitors eroded the graveyard.

The grave of Sir Winston Churchill has been re-dedicated on the anniversary of his greatest victory.


"We shall never surrender" - Churchill speaking in 1940
A new 350,000 tombstone has replaced the original at the parish churchyard in Bladon, Oxfordshire, on the 53rd anniversary of VE Day.

Members of the Spencer-Churchill family attended the special service at the redesigned tomb.


[ image: Churchill was buried in Oxfordshire following a state funeral at St Paul's Cathedral]
Churchill was buried in Oxfordshire following a state funeral at St Paul's Cathedral
The former statesman was buried by his parents, at his own request, after the state funeral at St Paul's Cathedral in 1965.

The 18th century parish church lies just outside the estate of Blenheim Palace, seat of the Dukes of Marlborough, where Churchill was born.

The Portland stone replacement of the original tomb follows years of erosion around the grave by visitors paying their respects to the former prime minister.


[ image: Grandson Winston Churchill was among family attending the re-dedication]
Grandson Winston Churchill was among family attending the re-dedication
Churchill's grandson, former Conservative MP Winston Churchill, said the family had a duty to restore the grave after it had fallen into disrepair.

He said: "The problem was that when my grandfather decided to be buried here no one knew that it would become a shrine for people who come from the far ends of the Earth.

"If two or three coach-loads of people arrived at the same time people were forced to walk on the graves, which had started to slip down a slope.

"I received many letters from visitors who felt that the site did not do justice to the great man."

The tomb for the statesman and his wife Clementine was designed by architect William Bertram, who has worked closely with Prince Charles at Highgrove.


Churchill's speech to the Canadian Parliament in 1941
The cost of the work has been funded principally by the Churchill family, together with a number of donations from friends and well-wishers.

The trustees of the Churchill Grave Trust include the Duke of Marlborough, Lady Soames, Churchill's daughter and only surviving child, and Winston Churchill.

Mr Churchill, who was accompanied by his wife Luce, son Jack and daughter Jenny, said the family had wanted to create a place of contemplation where people could reflect what his grandfather had achieved.

But villagers of Bladon say they are annoyed that they were not consulted over the plans.

Some have claimed the improvements, which took six months, have taken their toll on villagers sentiments.

The Rev John Fearn, a priest at the church, said: "I feel that the outlay in refurbishing all the family gravestones at Bladon could have been better spent on a more humanitarian cause or a scholarship.

"I think the original memorial was perfectly adequate for the final resting place of such an eminent statesman.

"I think it would have been better to leave the graves in peace."






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